2018 Sustainability Report University of Notre Dame

Letter from the Executive Vice President

I am pleased to present the University of Notre Dame's Sustainability Report highlighting our many accomplishments throughout calendar year 2018. This report honors our commitment to share progress towards the commitments outlined in our Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy.

Our approach has always been and remains grounded in our Catholic mission with respect for the human condition, respect for our natural resources, and economic viability. I encourage you to visit green.nd.edu to stay up to date on upcoming sustainability initiatives and events.

Dr. John Affleck-Graves, Executive Vice President

Our Implementation Strategy

As part of our Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy, a Standing Committee was established and meets twice a year to share accomplishments and review recommendations. The Standing Committee is comprised of representatives across each of the colleges and schools and includes faculty, undergraduate and graduate student representatives, and staff. This promotes a diverse perspective of ideas across campus.

Small Working Groups were formed that in total meet over forty times throughout the academic year to execute sustainability initiatives, develop and monitor sustainability metrics, and exchange ideas and knowledge. There are six Small Working Groups that align with each of the strategies set forth in the Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy and a communications group to bring visibility to the University's sustainability progress.

Energy & Emissions

Our Utilities Department continues to exceed its aspiration path for reducing our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 83 percent per gross square foot from 2005 levels by 2050. We accomplish this through moving to less carbon-intensive fuels, increasing renewable sources of energy, and leading the way in energy conservation and efficiency.

Progress Snapshot:

  • A planned 2.25 MW hydroelectric project on the St. Joseph River will provide 7% of campus electricity needs once operational in late-2020.
  • Installed at East Plant 4,000 tons of electric driven chilled water capacity, 1,350 tons of geothermal capacity and 6,000 tons of thermal (chilled water) storage. On campus we have a total of 2,650 tons of geothermal capacity.
  • Electrical consumption was 14.25 kilowatt hours per square foot in 2018, down 5.8 percent from 2017.

Renewable energy projects already installed:

  • A 50kW solar panel system donated by GE on the roof of Stinson-Remick Hall, providing an estimated 55,000 kwh annually.
  • A 10kW flexible thin-film solar array donated by Inovateus Solar on the roof of Fitzpatrick Hall.
  • A 4kW vertical wind turbine on the roof of the power plant.
  • A 144.72kW ground-mounted solar system installed at the Kenmore Warehouse (pictured below).
The 432 solar modules located at Kenmore Warehouse produce 194,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, providing about one-third of the facility's electricity needs.

Achieved our goal to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50 percent (per square foot) by 2030. Exceeding our planned aspiration path will enable the University of Notre Dame to reduce emissions by 83 percent by 2050 and eventually become carbon neutral.

The University of Notre Dame has accelerated progress towards its goal set in 2015 to cease burning coal in five years by investing in energy decarbonization. We plan to reach this goal one year ahead of schedule in 2019. This significant emissions reduction was made possible through the extensive work of the Utilities Department implementing numerous renewable energy projects, energy conservation infrastructure, and temperature set point throughout campus. Additional renewable energy projects will enable the University of Notre Dame to reach its long-range goal ahead of schedule.

The Energy Conservation Program increased energy efficiency in buildings across campus. One very visible example is the Main Building LED lighting project. Installing LED lights avoids 35,000 kilowatt hours per year and reduces the campus carbon footprint by approximately 12.2 tons per year. Pictured above left is before the relighting project and above right is after.


The University of Notre Dame is blessed with bountiful water resources and has implemented strategies to exercise good stewardship. In order to set a campus-wide water conservation goal, we have begun evaluating our water use so that we can compare our consumption to that of other institutions.

Progress Snapshot:

  • 50 water meters were installed across campus, enabling the University to start tracking consumption and set water conservation goals.
  • Production well meters were installed at 7 locations to monitor water supplied from the domestic water system.
  • Campus-wide irrigation improvements championed by Landscape Services have resulted in a reduction of 244 million gallons a year. That is enough to fill St. Mary's Lake 15 times and equates to a 50 percent reduction in landscape water usage over the past 10 years.

Native Plantings

The University has installed five native planting areas across campus that improve water conservation and provide vital ecosystem habitats. Signage will be installed in 2019 highlighting the benefits of native plantings.

Investment in a hydration station has enabled events to cut down on single-use water bottles. In 2018, the hydration station was used at multiple events including welcome weekend, game-day, and student events.

Building & Construction

The University of Notre Dame designs its buildings with long-lasting energy and resource needs in mind. Before building any new building, efficient space utilization is considered. Incorporation of sustainability into our permanent design standards has allowed us to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification standards in 14 campus buildings, including 9 gold certifications and 5 silver certifications with an additional 3 buildings pending certification.

Progress Snapshot:

  • In 2018, Jenkins & Nanovic Halls received LEED silver certification and McCourtney Hall received LEED gold certification.
  • All new construction projects are designed to meet, at a minimum, the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED silver certification standards at the time of construction.
  • Over 96 percent of construction-related waste was diverted from landfills.
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting was used in 95 percent of new construction spaces.
A 50kW solar array installed on the roof of Stinson-Remick (top) provides an estimated 55,000 kilowatt-hours of carbon free electricity annually and contributed to the building's LEED gold certification. Pictured below left to right are the Purcell Pavillion and Corbett Family Hall, which are examples of two of our newer LEED certified buildings.

The University of Notre Dame is home to five living roofs including the largest green roof in Indiana and largest of any U.S. college or University

The Joyce Center green roof measures 79,096 square feet. Morris Inn, Corbett Family Hall, Duncan Student Center, and O'Neill Hall also have living roofscapes bringing the University's total green roofscape to over 122,000 square feet. Green roofs conserve energy, reduce runoff, improve roof longevity, and reduce noise and air pollution, and are visually stunning.


The University of Notre Dame has worked diligently to reduce campus waste in support of its long range goal to divert from the landfill 67 percent of all waste by 2030. Overhauling the recycling program as well as identifying sources of contamination has enabled the diversion of over 1,600 tons from the landfill.

Progress Snapshot:

  • A new recycling program was implemented to improve the cleanliness of campus recycling. Clean cardboard, aluminum, glass, and plastics #1-6 can still be placed in single stream recycling.
  • Two recycling videos were developed to educate campus about the new recycling program on what is recyclable and what is trash. The videos also discouraged aspirational recycling and answered the question: "Can I Recycle That?"
  • Campus wide e-mails, articles, Town Hall slides, trash talk events, and signage were developed in support of the new recycling program.
  • Game Day Recycling had over 140 volunteers distribute over 8,500 bags to improve tailgate recycling during football season.
  • A capital investment was made in a Food Waste Solution, Grind2Energy. Once installed, Grind2Energy will divert approximately 400 tons of food waste from the Center for Culinary Excellence, North Dining Hall, and South Dining Hall to be converted into renewable electricity.
  • A student-led research project resulted in the procurement and installation of a water-bottle station at DeBartolo Hall, one of the University's largest academic buildings.
Over 2,000+ signs describing the new recycling program were distributed across campus

Learn to recycle right!

The Morris Inn demonstrated their commitment to sustainability by rolling out eco-friendly straws available upon request only. Cocktail stirrers and garnish picks are also sustainably sourced.
Investment in the LeanPath system has enabled campus dining to avoid 248 tons of food waste resulting in the avoidance of 186 tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere.

Procurement, Licensing, and Food Sourcing

Progress Snapshot:

  • All requests for proposal contain a sustainability clause to increase and encourage the purchase of more sustainable products and/or services.
  • Green Loan Funding brought the "OZZI" reusable food container system to North Dining Hall's Marketplace to reduce single-use disposable containers while serving quick and nutritious meals.
  • North Dining Hall was awarded 2 Star Certified Green Restaurant Status earning 135 points in a range of criteria including energy efficiency of appliances, menu offerings, waste, and use of chemicals.
  • 23 percent of dining menus are plant based.
  • Through careful decision-making with our food suppliers Gordon Food Services (GFS) and Stanz, 33.4 percent of products were sourced from Michigan, Indiana, or within 250 miles of campus.

Education, Research, and Community Outreach

Our commitment to advancing sustainability across campus goes beyond simply increasing sustainable practice and operations. Increasing sustainability literacy and research demonstrates our leadership as good environmental stewards.

Progress Snapshot:

  • During the 2017-2018 academic year, Notre Dame offered 123 sustainability-related undergraduate courses in the sustainability, energy studies, and energy resiliency minors. Every school has at least one sustainability-related course.
  • The Small Working Group launched a monthly Sustainability Seminar Series in collaboration with the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in January 2019.
  • The Small Working Group initiated planning toward a major conference that would bring together Catholic colleges and universities to share research, education, and outreach efforts in response to Laudato Si'.
  • The University of Notre Dame co-chairs the South Bend Green Ribbon Commission which encourages a forum for sustainability in the region.
  • Multiple research projects were sponsored by the Office of Sustainability for Sustainability Minor or Energy Studies Minor students. Capstone projects can be found here.
  • Groundbreaking scientific research aimed at addressing global challenges in energy production, generation, and use is the cornerstone of ND Energy.
  • Research completed by the Environmental Change Initiative provides solutions to society’s complex environmental challenges to minimize the trade-offs between human welfare and environmental health.

Communications and Outreach

Progress Snapshot:

  • Implemented multiple communications campaigns on recycling program changes including development of new recycling signage, two new recycling videos, campus-wide e-mails, articles in NDWorks and TheObserver.
  • Developed recurring "Sustainability Tips of the Week" for TheWeek@ND and InsideND.
  • Five different videos were developed in collaboration with Fighting Irish Media to show in Notre Dame Stadium, Purcell Pavillion, and Compton Family Ice Arena.
  • Collaborated with external media to publicize sustainability initiatives across campus including ABC 57, South Bend Tribune, and 88.1 WVPE.
Developed "Sustainability Ads" for airing on NPR's 88.1, collaborated with ABC 57 and South Bend Tribune to share Sustainability stories.

Student Outreach:

  • GreeND partnered with the Office of Sustainability to hold two sustainability festivals.
  • The PlasticFreeND campaign was established and led by students aimed at reducing single-use plastic consumption on campus.
  • 39 sustainability commissioners from residence halls across campus met regularly with the Office of Sustainability to build awareness of sustainability in residence life.
  • The Office of Sustainability supported 7 student interns from various academic backgrounds to help plan events, support sustainability projects, and conduct research for new initiatives.
  • The Food Rescue student group helps divert consumable food from the landfill and provide meals to those in need, averaging 17 food runs per week to area homeless shelters and recovery centers.
PlasticFreeND tabled to build awareness of single-use plastics reduction and gain pledges to reduce plastics.

Faculty and Staff Outreach:

  • In 2018, 41 faculty and staff became Green Ambassadors for their respective departments raising total membership to 179.
  • Three quarterly "Lunch and Learn" events were hosted as well as a sustainable holiday celebration to provide a forum for faculty and staff to ask questions, share information, and help advance sustainability efforts in their respective offices.

Looking Ahead

As we move into 2019 and beyond, we continue to explore and take action to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce waste and achieve resource conservation.

  • Continue to diversify our energy portfolio by exploring additional renewable and recoverable energy sources.
  • Install Grind2Energy systems and divert 400+ tons of food waste, which will avoid 275 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere while generating 70,000 kilowatt hours of renewable electricity.
  • Continue to construct all new building to a minimum LEED silver certification requirements.
  • Commission chilled water pumping station for 2019 cooling season.
  • Roll out water dashboard, evaluate consumption, and develop water conservation goals.
  • Host planned Sustainability Seminar Series and explore continuation.
  • Implement planning for a university-wide academic conference focused on Sustainability.
  • Review of campus-wide printing and printer fleet to reduce overall print volume and environmental impact.

“All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.”

- Pope Francis, Encyclical: Laudato Si’

Created By
Notre Dame Office of Sustainability


Matt Cashore photos.nd.edu/

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